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Silicon Valley meets alternative fish feeds

This week's F3 conference in California continues the quest for fish feed and oil made without the inclusion of any wild fish.

Thursday, February 201, 10 a.m. PST

Selling more expensive alternative-feed fish is a team effort

One way to explain the higher cost of salmon that are fed with alternative ingredients that replace meal and oil from wild forage fish is to better educate retail and foodservice buyers, said Jose Villalon, corporate sustainability director at Nutreco, owner of feed giant Skretting.

Villalon acknowledged that the aquaculture and feed industries are innovating and driving transformative change without a substantial demand for such from buyers. Nevertheless, the move from wild fish feed resources to algae and other options adds cost to the price of salmon, and these costs need to be explained clearly to buyers.

Villalon said Skretting has found success by bringing together all parties in the supply chain – feed ingredient suppliers, feed companies and farmers -- to meet with buyers. By doing so, he said, buyers receive a more complete understanding of the value chain and how changes in feed and other points along the supply chain influence the cost of the fish.

He cited an example in which Skretting fed salmon with 1 percent algal oil from Veramaris, which replaced 30 percent of the fish oil in the feed and gave the fish a 15 percent higher EPA and DHA content. Costs increased 6 percent, but Skretting and its value chain partners could better explain the increase by pointing out that the fish was environmentally better –less use of forage fish – and healthier because of the higher omega-3 levels.

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Wednesday, February 20, 11 a.m. PST

What Veramaris is doing to combat salmon's falling omega-3 levels

On average, today's farmed salmon has half the amount of EPA and DHA fish oil that it did 10 years ago. Changes in fish feed formulations caused by a reduction in the amount of forage fish used to make feed have contributed to the change. Christian Martin of algal oil producer Veramaris explains how his company is working to change this.

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Wednesday, February 20, 9:30 a.m. PST

Silicon Valley meets alternative fish feeds

Kevin Fitzsimmons of the University of Arizona and the moderator of the F3 conference says the focus of this year's event is to further the advance of alternate ingredients to replace and supplement fish meal and fish oil. The meeting connects innovators in the alternative fish feed sector with Silicon Valley investors and others interested in the growing use of fish-free feeds.

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Wednesday, February 20, 8:55 a.m. PST

Understanding the value of forage fish

What is the true and holistic value of forage fish? The implications of losing forage fish goes well beyond the impact on aquaculture.

Mansi Konar, a consultant with F3, is working to fully quantify the value of forage fish.

In her presentation, she explained the value of forage fish lies in their contribution to biodiversity, food security, to employment in the areas where the fish are found and their impact on GDP and governance.

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Tuesday, February 19, 7 p.m. PST

This chef is raising, serving and selling trout that lives on a vegetarian diet

In 2008, Kenny Belov began a quest to develop a supply of farmed trout that were raised completely on a vegetarian diet -- no fish oil, no fish meal, no poultry, nothing of any animal source. Now 10 years later at his Fish restaurant in Sausalito, California, he is doing just that. He prepared a dinner for F3 attendees on Tuesday night that featured the fish.

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Tuesday, February 19, 11:55 a.m. PST

Early days, long way

Many speakers at the F3 conference stressed that the alternative-feeds sector is still in its early stages and there is a long way to go to replace what is now supplied as feed and oil by wild-capture fisheries.

Mike Velings, co-founder of Aqua-Spark, a global investment fund based in the Netherlands that makes investments in sustainable aquaculture, said it could be decades before alternative feeds are no longer alternative.

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Tuesday, February 19, 10 a.m. PST

What if we ran out of forage fish?

Here is a fun exercise if you are in the aquaculture sector: What if tomorrow there were no more forage fish – anchovies etc – to use for fish meal and fish oil?

That was the subject of a brainstorming session at Tuesday’s F3 conference. Each table of attendees spent time theorizing what would result in such a scenario.

Some of the common thoughts among all the groups included:

War: Countries facing food security issues as a result of the disappearance of forage fish sources would seek to protect the resources they have. Other countries presumably could battle for access to other nation’s resources.

Increase in use of agricultural raw materials: Efforts could focus on ways to use trimming and other resources from agriculture animals.

Ecosystem imbalance or collapse: Without feeder fish in the marine ecosystem, a massive collapse of the environment could result, affecting all fish.

Genetics: The loss of forage fish could lead to a massive investment in genetics to solve the problem

Farming forage fish: Can we figure out a way to farm forage fish, many of the groups asked.

Prices: Increase in seafood prices for both farmed and wild fish.

Regulations: New regulations affecting capture fisheries and aquaculture could evolve.

Should we eat fish at all: There could be a change in the perspective of all fish as a food source

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Monday February 18, 6 p.m. PST

Who can sell the most fish-free fish oil?

This week nearly 150 fish feed industry professionals are meeting and networking in Burlingame, California, along the San Francisco Bay, at a conference organized by the Future of Feed, or F3 as it is known, to explore the latest efforts to find replacements for fish meal and fish oil in aquaculture feeds.

F3 is a collaboration between NGOs, researchers, and private partnerships to accelerate the commercialization of innovative, alternative aquaculture feed ingredients to replace wild-caught fish.

The F3 team has launched two contests related to innovation in fish-free aquaculture feed. The first contest, the F3 Challenge, focused on finding which company could sell the most fish-free feed. One of China’s largest aquaculture and feed producers, Guangdong Evergreen Feed Industry Company, was awarded the $200,000 (€177,000) prize in Oct. 2017 for selling over 85,000 metric tons of fish-free feed.

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A second contest, the F3 Fish Oil Challenge -- which is currently on-going -- will award a $100,000 prize to the contestant who develops and sells the most “fish-free” fish oil. The contest will run until Sept. 15, 2019.

Four contestants have officially joined the race to replace the “fish” in fish oil. The global competitor who sells the most “fish-free” fish oil for aquaculture that meets the challenge criteria by Aug. 31, 2019 will win $100,000 (€88,500).

Competitors include China-based Guangdong Evergreen Feed Industry Co. Ltd.; China-based Shen Zhen Alpha Feed Co. Ltd.; Netherlands-based Veramaris; and the UK/U.S.-based team Aquaculture Innovation/Qualitas Health.

A combined total of 77,535 kilograms of F3 oil was sold by the contestants during the first sales period, which ran from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018. Veramaris is currently in the lead with the most oil sold.

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